On Friday, Beth Tully learned a magazine named her Kansas City Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates the best new chocolate in the city.
On Sunday, she closed that shop.
“I’m heartbroken,” says Tully, who opened the store in the new Priairiefire development in May 2014.
“I’m telling you, it sucks.”
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Tully started the concept in Wichita almost a decade ago. Her popular Bradley Fair store remains open, and she says its success has carried the Kansas City store.
“We had about a three-month window of amazing, and then it got really challenging,” she says of the Prairiefire store.
“We kept thinking, OK, we can hang … but it just never got better,” Tully says. “We couldn’t do it any longer and keep our very successful Wichita store on track.”
Originally, Tully says, she’d wanted to see if she could duplicate her Wichita store.
“I’d almost say, ‘Can you make lightning strike twice? … Can you do it from a distance?’ … And we did it,” she says. “We just don’t have any foot traffic.”
Tully says the store possibly was ahead of its time since the center isn’t complete and its next phase is behind schedule.
She also wonders if cooperative marketing at the center is working.
Tully says she’d considered more-established retail centers in the Kansas City area, but there weren’t openings where she wanted to be.
“Hindsight’s 20-20,” she says. “I’m kicking myself right now.”
Tully says Prairiefire is great in many ways, but, she says, “The retail tenants have all struggled to varying degrees.”
The Kansas City Cocoa Dolce did less than 50 percent of the business that Tully’s Wichita store does, she says.
That doesn’t mean one can’t work there, Tully says.
“I would love to open a store in that market,” she says. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Tully says she developed strong corporate and media contacts in Kansas City and will take care of her customers and commitments, such as sponsorships, from here.
She says she’s still innovating new products and developing staff.
“There’s lots of good things happening while this is happening,” Tully says. “It’s a really schizophrenic, strange thing.”
She says she still has plans, and that’s part of what makes the store’s closure the right business decision.
“I really, truly believe there’s a silver lining,” Tully says. “Right now, it’s kind of a … dark forest I have to walk through.”
When she comes out, she says, she hopes it will be to a new store.
“My hope is the Kansas City market gives us another chance,” Tully says. “Because we’re not done.”